For the previous few days, Anil Mane, a 10-year veteran on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), and a small group of caddies, all staff of the Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC), have taken to a small stretch of grassy land alongside the railway tracks at Vashi Naka to renew observe. And as you may think about, they’ve caught the attention of quite a lot of curious onlookers within the course of.
“No one here has seen this game before and they like to see it. It’s a new thing for them,” Mane advised TOI within the midst of a observe session on Monday.
With golf programs shut ever because the lockdown started, BPGC has been off limits to Mane, who additionally works as a caddy and coach on the Chembur-based membership. After over three months of being denied a good hit, he was not prepared to take a seat quiet any longer.
“We had been searching for a place in the last two weeks,” stated Mane. “When I was walking one morning, I came to the nearby railway line and I found a very good place where there is a lot of grass. So I said we could practise here because I didn’t find any other good place. So for the last four days I’ve been practising here only.”
Such has been the 39-year-old’s pleasure at having lastly discovered a spot the place he can observe, that not even the heavy rains witnessed over the previous couple of days have succeeded in setting him again. “Golfers cannot keep at dwelling,” he quipped.
With only “maalgaadis (items trains)” plying this stretch, Mane said there was no danger posed to him or his companions, though practice is limited to just “chipping and a few placing”, not that he looks at it negatively. “I can’t hit lengthy golf equipment. I can hit solely 60 to 70 yards, that is it,” he said.
“Long photographs, you do not have to work extra on (in contrast) to brief recreation. You must be in contact along with your brief recreation and you’ll practise your brief recreation anyplace. You do not want an enormous place, only a place of 60-70 yards additionally isn’t any drawback.”
Mane, whose modest home sits in a slum rehabilitation plot located close to the tracks, said he has, so far, been heading to the spot around noon to practise but is now eager to head there as early as six am. With barely any people walking around at that time, he said it might allow him to “practise some 150-yard photographs over the Eastern Expressway bridge”.
The last tournament Mane was due to compete in this year was the Bengal Open Golf Championship in March where, unfortunately, he was forced to withdraw from the event due to injury.
While the pandemic has inevitably seen his finances take a hit, Mane expressed his gratitude to the Chembur Golf Welfare Foundation (CGWF) who have been providing him and other caddies with some much needed aid. “It’s a battle for everybody,” said Mane, who is a father to three girls and a boy. “In the lockdown they’ve (CGWF) helped us quite a bit. Main factor, our youngsters’ schooling, household insurance coverage, they’re taking care of every thing.”
Five years ago, a current affairs and documentary programme, part of Chinese news network CGTN, published an inspiring seven-minute video, that’s available on You Tube, where Mane speaks about his humble beginnings and explains how he managed to make what is widely considered an elite sport playable in the slums.
For someone who has grown comfortable with switching from player to caddy to coach over the years, for now, his innovative way to practise seems designed to ensure he is once again ready to embrace the first of those three roles.
“I have to practise as a result of as soon as the lockdown is over and authorities grants permission, tournaments will begin instantly.”
And until then, the grassy stretch he has discovered by the railway tracks will just have to do.
“Till the golf course opens, we’ve got to do that no? There isn’t any alternative.”